All posts by Kathy Nicholson

"Hackathon" to build interdisciplinary teams

16 September: By Dr Andrew Care

The 2019 BioNetwork “hackathon” Event was held last week at Macquarie University (MQ). The CNBP-sponsored event promoted interdisciplinarity between the different departments on campus in order to foster innovation and successful collaborations for early-career researchers. The event was modeled as a “hackathon”  in order to develop team building in an interdisciplinary context and develop new ideas based on challenges presented by clinicians from MQ Hospital.

The event hosted a prestigious panel of speakers, and included an opening address from MQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Prof. Sakkie Pretorius and an introduction to the university’s health research priorities by Dr. Brenton Hamdorf, Director of Academic and Research Partnerships. Neurosurgeons and clinical researchers  A./Prof Andrew Davidson and A./Prof. Antonio di Leva presented modern challenges relating to brain cancer research. In the afternoon session, attendees had the opportunity to hear talks from Dr. Sumit Raniga on Orthopaedic Biomechanics and Prof. Lars Ittner on the new MQ Dementia Research Centre.

More than 60 attendants – including CNBP ECRs, came to the event during the day, a majority of which participated in the group activities which resulted in pitch presentations judged by a panel of experts. Generous contributions from the CNBP and others funded prizes for the pitch presentations and poster session, and collaborative grants for interdepartmental projects.

On behalf of the BioNetwork Organisation Committee we would like to thank all of the speakers, sponsors and attendees. We hope MQ and CNBP members will take part in this event again next year, and that the BioNetwork will become a useful outlet for networking and interdisciplinary collaboration on campus.


Image: DVCR Prof Sakkie Pretorius opening address 

New probe to detect hydrogen peroxide

10 June 2019:

A team of CNBP researchers have published a new paper discussing the design and application of a micro fabricated needle-like probe to measure hydrogen peroxide.  This new microfluidic tool has applications for monitoring dynamic chemical reactions in analytical chemistry and biological systems.

Journal: RSC Advances

Publication Title: Microfabricated needle for hydrogen peroxide detection

Authors: Shilun Feng, Sandhya Clement, Yonggang Zhu, Ewa M. Goldys and David W. Inglis

Abstract:  A microfabricated needle-like probe has been designed and applied for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) sampling and detection using a commercial, single-step fluorescent H2O2 assay. In this work, droplets of the assay reagent are generated and sent to the needle tip using a mineral-oil carrier fluid. At the needle tip, the sample is drawn into the device through 100 mm long hydrophilic capillaries by negative pressure. The sampled fluid is immediately merged with the assay droplet and carried away to mix and react, producing a sequence of droplets representing the H2O2 concentration as a function of time. We have characterized the assay fluorescence for small variations in the sample volume. With the calibration, we can calculate the concentration of H2O2 in the sampled liquid from the size and intensity of each merged droplet. This is a microfluidic data-logger system for on-site continuous sampling, controlled reaction, signal storage and on-line quantitative detection. It is a useful tool for monitoring dynamic chemical reactions in analytical chemistry and biological applications.

Key words: Microfluidics, probe, H2O2, analytics chemistry

Research award for Ms Megan Lim

5 June 2019:  Congratulations to PhD Student Ms Megan Lim who was awarded the Robinson’s Research Institute Prize for Best presentation in the field of reproduction, pregnancy or child health at The Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) conference.

Megan’s oral presentation was titled “Investigation of haemoglobin as an antioxidant to reduce reactive oxygen species during the in vitro maturation of moues cumulus-oocyte com.

Megan would like to thank my supervisor Dr Kylie Dunning and lab colleagues for their feedback during her practice talks, and also the Biological Challenges meeting attendees who gave her  helpful insights for her project.  “Thank you for your words of encouragement and support!”

What is the potential for CRISPT/Cas Multiplex Biosensing?

29 May 2019:

Recent publication by CNBP PhD student Mr Yi Li and team at the University of New South Wales explores the challenges and opportunities of working with CRISPR /Cas for multiplex detection

Journal: Trends in Biotechnology

Publication TitleCRISPR/Cas Multiplexed Biosensing: A Challenge or an Insurmountable Obstacle?

Authors: Yi Li, Linyang Liu, Guozhen Liu

Abstract:  Performing multiplex detection is still an elusive goal for molecular diagnostics. CRISPR/Cas-based biosensing has demonstrated potential for multiplex detection. Instead of being an insurmountable obstacle, CRISPR/Cas multiplexed biosensing is a realistic challenge with some recent successful applications. Strategic considerations are required to fully explore its potential in multiplex diagnostics.

Key Words:

CRISPR/Cas; multiplex; biosensing; diagnostics; nucleic acid detection


SPIE Quantum Communications and Quantum Imaging XIII Conference

brantgibson9 August 2015:

A/Prof Brant Gibson, CNBP CI,  presented a paper at the SPIE Quantum Communications and Quantum Imaging XIII Conference (OP416), San Diego, California, 9-13 August 2015.

The paper presented was titled: ‘Hybrid quantum photonic applications of nanodiamond.’


Fluorescent nanodiamonds (NDs) have a range of unique properties which make them highly desirable for bioimaging applications. Their fluorescence is produced via optical excitation of atomic defects, such as the negatively charged nitrogen vacancy centre, within the diamond crystal lattice. Possessing long-wavelength emission, high brightness, no photobleaching, no photoblinking, single photon emission at room temperature, nanometer size, biocompatibility, and an exceptional resistance to chemical degradation make NDs almost the ideal fluorescent bioimaging nanoprobe. I will discuss these exciting properties in detail and also give some examples of their nano-manipulation and integration with photonic materials for hybrid ND-photonic quantum applications.


Roman Kostecki at ICMAT2015

Roman Kostecki28 June 2015:

CNBP researcher Roman Kostecki presented his latest research paper at the 8th International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies (ICMAT2015). The conference, twinned with the 4th Photonics Global Conference took place in Singapore 28 June – 3 July 2015.

The paper, titled “Thin-film Polymer Functionalization of Optical Fiber Enabling Multiligand Chemosensing” was published with an author list consisting of Roman KOSTECKI, Sabrina HENG, Heike EBENDORFF-HEIDEPRIEM, Andrew ABELL, and Tanya MONRO.


Silica exposed-core microstructured optical fibers (EC-MOFs) are a platform for distributed, in situ, and/or remote sensors based on fluorescence. The portion of light guided outside of the glass core, often described as ‘evanescent field’, is affected by the refractive index and absorption characteristics of the surrounding medium. This light-matter overlap provides opportunities for fluorometric measurements of the composition and concentration of an analyte along the fiber length. Functionalizing the core with a chemosensor removes the need for chemosensor/analyte premixing. Detection of aluminum cations (Al) is of particular interest as a means to monitor corrosion, human health and the environment.

We demonstrate the first example of a photo-switchable chemosensor for Al detection using a modified photochromic spiropyran (SP-I), which is appended to an ionophore for cation binding. Photochemical switching of the spiropyran allows ion binding to be switched on and off, creating a multiple use chemosensor. The SP-I sensor binds Al or calcium cations as multi- or single-ligand complexes respectively, and was modified for surface attachment. Silane- or polyelectrolyte-based methodology allows subsequent attachment of the SP-I to a glass surface. Studies with the dual ion binding SP-I integrated with the EC-MOF sensing platform provide evidence that covalent attachment is ineffective, where multiligand binding chemosensors are needed. Functionalizing EC-MOFs with a thin-film (50 nm) polymer doped with SP-I demonstrates capacity to use both multi- and single-ligand binding chemosensors. This demonstrates that the integration of photo-switchable chemosensor, thin-film polymer, and silica optical fiber elements creates a sensor capable of multiligand chemosensing anywhere along the fiber’s length. The work demonstrates a new pathway to next generation reusable and continuous operation ion sensing platforms, and that the local molecular environment of a chemosensor affects its function which can be used to control how metal ions interact with chemosensors.


5th Asia Pacific Optical Sensors Conference

20-22 May 20Alexandre Francois Low Res Edit 008315: Jeju Island; Korea

Dr Alex Francois presented an invited talk at the 5th Asia Pacific Optical Sensors Conference.

Surface plasmon scattering: an alternative approach for optical fibers biosensors:  Alexandre François, Beniamino Sciacca , Elizaveta Klantsataya, Agnieszka Zuber, Peter Hoffman, Manuela Klinger-Hoffman, Tanya M. Monro

The APOS 2015 continues a series of conferences that are intended to provide a central forum for an update and review of technical information covering wide range of optical sensing fields from fundamental researches to systems and applications. The conference is open to researchers and professionals from not only Asia-Pacific Rim region but also all of the world.